Gretsch guitars...

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. Member

    Feb 8, 2006
    MojoCaster Land :)
    ... why are they so expensive? Seriously?

    not trying to troll here, seriously, just trying to figure this out.

    These guitars are made in Japan, on CNC machine, and they sell for $2500+. I don't get it.

    They're fine guitars, don't get me wrong, and I'd love to add one to my collection, but for that price I have to pass. I can get a fine, USA-made, hand-crafted guitar for that price. For example, one of the guitars I currently lust after on the site is, if recall correctly, $2600. Guess which one I want more? That's right, the hand-made one that received the attention and talent of a passionate luthier. Every time.

    So someone please explain to me how that price structure is justified - other than "because people buy them so they can get away with it."

    Thanks :)
  2. Frankee

    Frankee Wartime Consigliere

    Jan 31, 2008
    Santo Poco
    Items that are made in Japan are about as rare as American made items these days; and on the same level of quality, if not greater.

    Those Gretschs are some mighty fine instruments.
  3. beNsteR

    beNsteR Member

    Aug 6, 2004
    they're not just punched out on a CNC as far as i know..

    Japanese craftsmen handcraft them in the Tereda factory..


    they've been handbuilding high-quality archtops/semihollows and other guitars for Ibanez and other companies since the 60's and 70's..

    i would say the build quality of the Japanese-made Professional Series Gretsch guitars are equal to that of say, an Ibanez George Benson or Pat Metheny model.

    they've gotten even better since Fender took over in '03-'04.
  4. Blauserk

    Blauserk Member

    Jun 14, 2002
    I won't seek to justify the price. To be devil's advocate: a surprising amount of hand work goes into them (look at pix of surprisingly low tech factory below), particularly the hollowbodies, and with the weak dollar and fairly high Japanese wages, the price gets up there.

    That said, Gretsch list prices are way high (although the guitars are discounted heavily at certain dealers), and I think you're right: they know when a guy wants a White Falcoln, there's no really close substitutes, so they have you over a barrell. Their prices (and the depreciation) are one of the reasons I buy used. I got a 2006 Power Tenny used here on the Gear Page for under $1500; you can get used lacquer 6120s for $1800 or less all day long. I've had and have plenty of boo-teek and vintage guitars (including an exceptionally nice 1958 Gretsch), and my Terada-made Gretsch hangs right there with them. Superb playability, great tone, and resonant as hell.

    Still, makes a used Lentz look like a hell of a steal, don't it?
  5. 6stringjazz

    6stringjazz Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2004
    Made in Japan doesn't mean low quality like it did many decades ago. I've been to Japan twice, and they are all about quality guitars there. The Sadowsky I have was made in Japan, and it's one of the highest quality instruments I've ever owned. I also have an Edwards Les Paul that is better than the Gibson I had that I sold after getting the Edwards. So, I would say even though I think the Gretches ARE overpriced to some degree, they are very high quality, and not any more overpriced than any other so called high quality production models made by American companies like Gibson, Fender, and PRS.
  6. MBreinin

    MBreinin Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    New Orleans, Booziana
    They are flawless...something most American manufacturers can't claim. Every one I have had has been spot on and extremely good playing and sounding.

  7. wreckfan

    wreckfan Member

    Nov 2, 2007
    Love Gretsch Guitars !!

    Good Gretsch's are hard to find - you have to play a lot of them to find a good one - hence the price. Seems kinda backwards !! There seems to be a lot of guitars that you have to do that with. I have owned half a dozen and played many more finding those - I would NEVER buy a Gretsch sight unseen !!

    I stupidly sold (actually traded in) one of my very best guitars ever - a Setzer Model 6120 that played / sounded awesome and was simply a blast to play. I also play my Brothers (real) 1959 model 6119 (single bridge pickup / no tone controls) a lot - by far my favorite ever rhythm guitar - it was a gift to him from Brian Setzer.

    Just my opinion - lifes simple pleasures

    1. A great Les Paul
    2. An awesome Gretch
    3. A good tele
    4. A nice strat
    5. A good acoustic (probably with some onboard electronics for us "electric" players
    6. For those "classic- rock " players a Ricky 360/12
    7. For the advanced player maybe a jazz box (not me)
  8. XKnight

    XKnight Member

    Apr 8, 2007
    Republic of Texas
    I didn't realize that none of the Gretsch guitars are made in the USA. If the quality is there then the prices aren't too far off from some other big name companies. Although I am relutant to pay that much for a guitar or amp made overseas.

    CNC machine has taken on a somewhat negative connotation which I don't believe it deserves. Many high end, custom and boutique builder use a CNC machine. They still have to do a lot of hand finishing though after the machine is done doing its thing. I recently visited the Collings factory and was surprised that they use the CNC process for their guitars. I was also surprised to see how much more work was still involved after the CNC proces was done. Suhr also uses CNC and those guitars are outstanding.
  9. Lewkk

    Lewkk Member

    Sep 29, 2007
    Where the cheese rolls.
    Because guitar making is not a skill that is determined by race and countries other than America are capable of making amazing instruments.
    It's an easy concept when the racist stereotypes and misconceptions are dropped and thought about.

    Don't misunderstand me - I know your not being directly racist or trolling Mojo and I dont mean to imply that you are, I'm just pointing out that it's a sad fact that most westerners think like this about the east(likely due to the wests exploitation of cheap eastern labour!).

    A CNC machine has no negative affect on a guitar(just ask Suhr if you think otherwise), most small builders simply have no need or cant afford one when making so few guitars.

    p.s check the back of your amp and see where the valves come from ;) and carry on enjoying your French Trussart :D

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2008
  10. dead mike

    dead mike Member

    Jun 26, 2008
    the great white north
    Mojo, what is this handcrafting that Rice is doing that Gretsch isnt?

    And didnt you yourself buy or want a CNC machined guitar ? A suhr was'nt it?
  11. Rumble

    Rumble Instrumental Rocker Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    The Gretsch mystique is part of the price. It's just the way it is.
  12. cottoneyedjoe

    cottoneyedjoe Member

    Dec 9, 2006
    I had a duo jet. Probably one of the best, if not THE BEST, guitar I have ever owned tonewise.

    The neck was beautiful and the bigsby played like a dream. I paid through the nose for it. AND

    It was worth it.

    In a fit of stupidity I sold it for an American made guitar that was no where close to my Gretsch. It was a quick decision deal that I regret to this day.

    I paid absolutely no attention to the fact that it was made in Japan. As a matter of fact, I have played many early American Gretsches that were dogs compared to my Japanese model.
  13. beNsteR

    beNsteR Member

    Aug 6, 2004
    the Gretsch USA Custom Shop 6120 and white falcon models list at over ten grand..
  14. Joe Robinson

    Joe Robinson Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2004
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    I actually find them to be a value when you buy used.
  15. Gary Ladd

    Gary Ladd Member

    Jan 30, 2005
    Control Room
    Buy used MIA & be done with it...
  16. JimmyR

    JimmyR Member

    Jul 22, 2006
    sub lacum
    I have a friend who ridicules me for paying any money for a Japanese made Gretsch. Thing is, I love my Gretsches and find them as well built if not better than anything else I've ever played. Well maybe not Collings well made but better than say Gibson. I've had around a 1/2 dozen old US Gretsches and the new ones are better IMHO. Some old Gretsches are great guitars but not the ones I had!

    The Gretsches I like are the sig series 6120s and they are just beautifully built, great playing and sounding guitars. Nothing sounds remotely like them. My wife likes them. The guitars I have represent much better value than a comparable Gibson. I had Gibson ES5s, 135s and still have a good 335. But in terms of build quality the Gretsch leaves them for dead. My friend says "well how come the Epiphone Elitists are so much cheaper?" and yes some are made in the same factory as my Gretsches. But they're not that much cheaper and the Gretsches I have are even better made than the Elitists I have played.

    But really I don't care. The two 6120s I have now - an '04 RHH and an '05 SSU - are seriously good guitars and I play the crap out of 'em!
  17. stratotonedude

    stratotonedude Senior Member

    Feb 15, 2008
    I like my two Japanese Gretsches- a Jet Firebird with Dynasonics and a Country Classic with real f holes. But they don't get played as much since I got a 1964 Anniversary.
  18. FrankieSixxxgun

    FrankieSixxxgun Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    Tampa, FL
    They're finely crafted instruments, despite the MIJ tag on the back. Considering the current quality coming out of the Nashville Gibson factory, these MIJ Gretsch guitars blow them out of the water. My, "Go to," guitars are, of course, a 1981 Kalamazoo Gibson ES-335, 2001 Gretsch '62 reissue Tennessee Rose, and a 2008 125th anniversary Gretsch White Falcon. The guitars are flat out equal in craftsmanship. The paint, binding, and inlay on my White Falcon are flawless, not to mention the tone coming out of that Falcon through the Japanese-made Dynasonics is amazing. Seriously, considering I blew $1800 on my Les Paul Standard, and it basically sucks ass, these Gretsch guitars are definitely worth the price tag.

    Edit - The MIA original Gretsch guitars are actually lesser quality. Word on the street is that Mr. Gretsch paid by the unit, not by the hour, so these guitars were slapped together as quick as they could be. It's not uncommon to find binding coming off on older MIA Gretsch guitars.
  19. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2007
    It's been a long time since MAde in JApan became a gold-standard of quality.
    Austalia is close to JApan, and us "Westerners" actually think prety highly of their standards.

    My 6120 Setzer was perfect in every aspect of it's build and playability, straight out of the box, as was my ESP KH-2, also proudly Made In Japan at the ESP Custom Shop. When was the last time you saw a thread ragging on the build quality of a Japanese guitar ?? I see Gibson bashing threads all the time.
    Ther eis no comparison wiht the old Gretcshes which were made by the cheapest labour tha could be found. The factory was moved several teims to accomplish cost-saving, not quality. The Japanese guitars will stand next to anything and hold their heads high, Collings etc included.
  20. shuie

    shuie Member

    Aug 11, 2006
    ...down Highway 61
    I'd look for an old one. I just bought a refinished '59 Double Anniversary with two PAF Filtertrons for considerably less than the cost of a new MIJ DA reissue. A friend of mine just picked up a gorgeous 100% '63 Country Club for similar money. The MIJ guitars are really nice, but it doesn't make sense to me to spend more for a reissue than the real thing.

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